To get us started, could you go over the team’s development priorities and the process for building Dark and Light’s world?
First, it’s important to understand the background lore of Dark and Light. Not too long before the events of Dark and Light, a war erupted on the planet Gaia that led to its complete destruction. Countless inhabitants escaped to one of its satellite planets, known as Alpha, which is where Dark and Light takes place. Gaia’s hollow shell can be seen clearly in-game during certain times of the day, and it’s even featured in Dark and Light’s logo.
Our first playable area is called The Sacred Path - a sprawling landscape comprised of over 20 unique areas, including dense forests, cities, flying islands, a mysterious shipwreck, and more. Something we’re particularly excited about that we haven’t shown much of yet are the dungeon-like complex cave structures hidden across The Sacred Path. Each cave contains unique, powerful creatures and rare, valuable resources for players to plunder. There are 10 of these structures scattered throughout The Sacred Path; we’re really looking forward to players discovering and conquering them all.
Our main design goals with Dark and Light and The Sacred Path in particular are to create a fantasy world that’s immersive and exciting, with plenty of space for players to just choose a direction to explore in, but with enough content and secrets for players to discover naturally. We didn’t want it to be a theme park where players just visit the same areas in the same order, and we also want to let all players on a server have their own space to create and build in without feeling crowded.
Designing the world of Dark and Light has been a very iterative process. A lot of our original ideas and concepts ended up getting scrapped at various points in the development process. We’ve focused on creating realistic-feeling ecosystems in each of The Sacred Path’s biomes, and in order to achieve that, we needed to reject or retool dozens of flora and fauna designs during the early design stages. We’re looking forward to continuing to build and develop more of Dark and Light’s world.
Could you give us some background on the design of any of the major areas in The Sacred Path? Are there any secrets or easter eggs you could share…?
We initially designed the floating islands to give players the chance to explore a unique magical ecosystem, completely different from what’s found on the main continent. Players won't be able to reach the floating islands without a strong flying mount, so players will be rewarded with new territories to explore as they advance in the game.
Each of the three faction cities (Vardo, Estel, and Zaharul) are strategically located to be defensible from attacks by outside factions, and each is also adjacent to a unique biome on The Sacred Path. For example, Zaharul is near mountains and volcanoes, while Estel is located near the coast and not far from the floating islands we mentioned earlier.
On a related point, in addition to players having the option to respawn in their faction city, there are 20 Soul Nodes placed in strategic locations around The Sacred Path. Players can capture the Soul Nodes on behalf of their faction, then teleport between them to travel quickly across the map. On PvP-heavy servers, capturing and controlling these areas is going to be extremely important for highly-competitive players.
We don’t want to spoil any specific secret areas, but we will say that players should make their best efforts to reach for the sky when exploring - the best-kept secrets are the ones that are hardest to reach.
A number of players have commented that the map feels like it may be too large for the number of players allowed on a single server. Do you have any thoughts on that?
We feel like there’s a nice balance between the size of the map and our expected official server player cap (70-100 players per server on Early Access launch). Players have enough space to construct their own thing, be it a small house or an entire city. Once a player has explored and leveled up a bit, they can also build portals to different areas of the map, giving them easy access to resources rich in various resources. Every player on a server should have the space to explore and develop their own skills without crowding each other, while still coming across one another very frequently while exploring or gathering resources.
Are there any areas on The Sacred Path that the dev team is particularly fond of?
We really like the overall design of the three starting faction/camp cities, as they provide a lot of resources for players who would be otherwise lost as soon as they began their journey in Dark and Light. Players begin their journey in the cities and respawn in cities when they die; there they can enjoy the protection of guards from some of the more vicious creatures they may come across close to the city. In cities, players can rent houses, stock up on supplies, and uncover some clues to Dark and Light’s background lore.
Each faction city has a unique vibe and characteristic culture, and each one is located in a different part of the map with varying availability of certain resources available within a short distance from the city. Players will need to rely on the natural defenses of the city, especially early on in the game when they don't have advanced skills or equipment. We’re really happy with the way that these areas help break up the standard survival gameplay cycle by offering an alternate source for resources, a safer place for newer players, and more options for endgame gameplay through city sieges and more.